Author Archives: Steve Pauls

Passion and Play in the Classroom

The idea of “play” as an educational structure in the classroom is a not new concept, but historically there has been significant international interest in research related to the benefits of student learning through play. Mitchel Resnick, a founder of the MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten group, has just published a new book based around the idea of student passion and play called, “Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Pasion, Peers, and Play.” The four Ps described in the title of his book comes from Resnick’s thirty-year collaboration with Seymour Papert developing “hands-on, minds-on” experiences within the elementary classroom.

Resnick’s new book was just released this fall and a few of us in the AIMS Center have been reading and discussing its content. Building on the active learning ideas of Piaget, Montessori, Freire, and Froebel, Resnick argues that school at every level should look a lot more like kindergarten, not less. The world that we live in is changing at an ever-increasing rate, all of us must learn to adapt and learn to think creatively both in and out of the classroom if we are to succeed. It has been suggested that 60% of the careers that kindergarteners will be applying for once they graduate from college do not even exist yet. How do we as teachers go about training students for jobs that we have yet to imagine?

Lately, the trend in kindergarten has been to increase the amount of time children spend spelling, completing math worksheets, and writing their letters so that each student is “prepared” for first grade. In other words, kindergarten has increasingly become more like the rest of school. In his book, Resnick argues that for the future of education it is imperative to promote creativity in the classroom and the best way to do that is to focus on creative thinking, reflecting, imagination, and play much as we use to do in a traditional kindergarten classroom.

Resnick’s forward-looking focus has been the application of Scratch programing both inside and outside of schools where students can engage in creative learning experiences involving group collaboration. Yes, even beginning in kindergarten. His work is based around the idea that it is time for our children’s “sandbox” to be a programing environment like Scratch, which is easy to start and has an unlimited ceiling in what it can do. In many ways, Papert and Resnick’s evolving ideas about technology in the classroom from Logo, to Lego Mindstorm, and now Scratch, have always been ahead of their time. We have struggled over the last 30 years with public access to technology, implementation, and connectivity. Moving forward we are beginning to solve a lot of these issues. As a result, we are beginning to see the development of numerous toys and programing curriculum targeting low elementary grades.

Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media lab is planning a free online 6-week course based on this new book starting in mid-October. I recommend that if you have time, you should sign up, and learn about the four Ps of education.

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What Part Does Technology have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part IV)

In the final installment of my blog series concerning education and technology, I would like to look ahead at the new technology that is currently attracting interest within educational and academic research. As a reminder, this series stems from the Jean Piaget Society conference I attended which had the theme “Technology and Human Development.” In… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology Have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part III)

This blog post is the third in a series concerning technology in education stemming from the Jean Piaget Society Conference I attended in June. The theme of this year’s conference was “Technology and Human Development.” It provided a venue to discuss technology through a variety of different academic disciplines and research frames of reference all… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology Have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part II)

I have been exploring the idea of technology in education since attending the Jean Piaget Society (JPS) Conference in San Francisco in early June. The theme for the 2017 conference was Technology and Human Development. In my last blog post, I reflected on the increasing rate of change in technology and how that exponential change… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part I)

The major theme of the Jean Piaget Society annual conference in June was Technology and Human Development. Since attending the conference, I have been part of several fascinating discussions that I would like to explore concerning the future advance of technology within education. In his book Singularity, Ray Kurtzweil talks about how human beings are… Continue Reading

Attending a Jean Piaget Society (JPS) Conference

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to attend the 47th Jean Piaget Society (JPS) Conference held in San Francisco. This annual conference brings together an intriguingly diverse group of individuals interested in the psychologist Jean Piaget and his prolific work in the area of constructivism and childhood cognitive development. At this conference, you can… Continue Reading